Command the Oceans – Play Begins! (9/11/2017)

Please read the first post if you haven’t already!

PLAY HAS BEGUN!

The first resource rolls! For the first 8 turns, fish would be the most valuable resource.

Introducing: Captain Mysion’s Pirate Kingdom!

After being inspired by his flavor text, I made a Pirate Empire fleet to showcase what I thought of the idea. Now I’ve taken it a step further! With a large piece of foam cut to form a hideout inside, as well as arch entrance and exit points, I now have a “Pirate Kingdom” in physical form!!
The self-proclaimed King of Pirates is either a genius or a buffoon, depending on which side you are on. Though many of his actions are inexplicable, they seem to work out for him in the end. And when it’s all said and done he lords over the only defensive pirate haven in the world.A group of shipwrecked pirates stole a ship to escape their island prison, not realizing it was a secret Cursed vessel. Taking it to Captain Mysion’s pirate “kingdom”, they received a hero’s welcome.

Here you can just make out all three Pirate ships that are in Mission’s starting fleet. At the bottom of the picture, notice the splash of gold…

At ship level now, this is the southern entrance (for this game) of the kingdom. Notice the imposing rocky walls that make up the archway leading inside. Sail too close, and yards may begin flying everywhere!

Up close above the northern arch.

This is just above sea level at the southwestern corner. There is a foreboding deep cave, with some weeds and foliage growing in many spots of the formerly uninhabited rock.

Another great view from above, showing most of the rocky haven. Notice the flat parts surrounding that high outcropping in the middle, as well as the shelf-like outcropping protruding from the western wall.

A golden waterfall?!? Shocked Smile Or, as Mysion likes to call it, his “goldfall”. Very Happy

A view from the gold waterfall, showing the two Pirate sloops. As you can see, one of them is nestled in against the interior wall for superior defensive positioning. The other sloop is docked against one of the arch entrances, ready to sail out at a moment’s notice.

The “goldfall” leads straight to the Cassandra, and you guessed it – Mission is aboard! However, this is his Mysterious Islands iteration, and he’ll try to give extra actions to his new ship to make her extra effective.

With great fanfare, Mission leaves his kingdom and sets out into the sea! What a great scene!!

Mission’s helpers are currently the Smiling Jim and the Fancy. Both are speedy and accurate Pirate sloops, but neither can carry much cargo. However, the Cassandra certainly can! This was all part of Mission’s plan for such a new area – as long as he kept the goodies in his personal stores, the crew on the other ships couldn’t tempt the others into coming aboard and leaving Mission. A clever Pirate indeed. Clever enough to not only find such an amazing natural defensive structure, but exploit it to the point of making it a powerful pirate base.

But this isn’t just a party for pirates, now is it?! Look who’s here: the Jade Rebellion is back!! On their own once again, the Jade Rebels are looking to avenge a frustrating loss in their own home waters of the South China Seas during the Experimental cumulative game about a year and a half ago. Leading their efforts this time around are two brand-new ships to my collection: the huge GRAND WIND and the Sea Snake! Warlord Cavendish commands the Grand Wind, with a helmsman aboard to make the ship sail at an acceptable pace.

The Jade Rebels seemingly appeared out of nowhere at the edge of this ocean, which is not just “Ocean #1” (for gameplay purposes and turn order), but also the Sea of Allost! (pronounced like you’re saying “all lost” as one word, not like ballast hah) The sea was so named because according to ancient legends, “all are lost who travel these waters”. This is not true in the least, as sailors seem to find their way rather easily in the Sea of Allost. (note: I love mispronouncing the real life Sea of Azov as “A-zovv” so this was a way for me to make a similar sounding name along with a vague flavor explanation lol)

Welcome to the Caribbean!

Well, kind of. XD Due to space constraints and another factor, it doesn’t resemble the Caribbean at all, but more a tiny snapshot of one fictionalized area of the Caribbean. By fictionalized, I mean that there are a couple Caribbean-type things involved, but they aren’t in their regular locations and the scale is tiny. (as it had to be, unfortunately) For the purposes of turn order and sequence, this is also known as Ocean #2.

Clearly the English have arrived! They sail in on two more ships that I built just before the game started, as I usually try to do with physical campaign games. HMS Viceroy and HMS Apollo have officially entered Royal Navy service, and they are eager to prove themselves in such fine and beautiful waters. Speaking of beautiful, check out their home island! You may recognize the style and aesthetics of it, and indeed it is yet another creation from Ross in AZ. You are probably impressed, but don’t be jealous of me – you can get some too! He sells (and sometimes trades) them; check out details on his Facebook page.

The English depart from Port Royal, looking for ways to maximize English wealth and territorial claims.

Ohhh boy!! Spain is back in action! After a dominant showing in the first VASSAL campaign game, they’re off to a HOT start in the third one. Now they’ve invaded the Caribbean and look for another victory! Setting sail from their home island of Hispaniola (thematically), the Spanish fleet contains a familiar ship: the San Estaban! This ship was one of the luckiest ships ever during my Economy Edition game two years ago, so naturally the Spanish are looking to capitalize on the ship’s rich history and surprise unknowing opponents.

Joining the San Estaban are the Magdalena and La Ebro, good sloops from subpar sets. Obviously they are using another island from Rossinaz, while in the background you can see a little preview or “taste” of the Caribbean. Smile A dangerous rock lies in wait, while my handmade sandbars are to the right.

The Spanish split their fleet into three, so they can explore more than one area of the Caribbean at a time.

The crew of the Ebro spot the imposing rock, whose height is nearly the same as the Ebro’s single mast! Before we leave the Caribbean for now, a note about the oceans: as you can generally see already, I am using a combination of completely fictional locations (Sea of Allost) along with a small but pseudo-historical real location (Caribbean). I realize this mix of reality and fantasy is not for everyone, but I can promise you that it will be worth it. Just keep reading. Smile

Introducing: The HARBOR!!

It’s here! With an absolute bevy of ideas percolating in my head over the past few weeks, the Harbor makes a grand entrance. The Harbor was cut from a large piece of foam, as the middle chunk was easily removed to leave a massive frame that works great as a defensible harbor.

In this Sea of Karkuda (name subject to change, also Ocean #3 for playing purposes), the French have arrived to build a massive harbor complex that eclipses the engineering feats of just about all other factions in any “game” ever. However, by the time they were done building it, they were nearly broke and could only afford a single dock for their ships!! Hahah!

A slightly more overhead view, showing how large the man-made structure is. The main harbor rule is as follows: Harbor docks of any size cost 10 gold apiece. I’m hoping this will be a reasonable way to let the French expand their operations within their luxurious confines, without being too cheap to allow for easy exploitation since the French are VERY lucky to have even built it in the first place. It’s capable of holding far more ships than Mysion’s kingdom, and may also be a stronger defensive haven. Therefore, it seems only fair that the French must build it up in order to have a drawback for using it from the beginning of the game. Oh, and another thing: ships must unload at docks within the Harbor, as the main walls cannot be docked at by any ships on the inside OR the outside. This forces the French to travel further inside to unload things, but also forces any potential home island raiders to brave arguably the most dangerous gauntlet of defense constructed in a Pirates game.

I hope you enjoyed the introduction of my new Harbor area. I initially had some issues with it which I’ll expand upon later, but now that I’ve done some serious brainstorming and thinking (thus the word bevy, harhar!), it has the potential to be an all-time great.

Well! Let’s not forget about the faction who controls the Harbor, shall we? The French! Sailing out with an Admiral’s Action to start the game provided by Amiral Gaston de St. Croix, the Soleil Royal is back in action! After a lengthy hiatus, one of my favorite French ships ever returns to physical play. A triumphant return indeed, for she is already sailing at a good clip with Gaston’s help. Speaking of help, Gaston has some of his own. Duncan Rousseau is excited about sailing around the Sea of Karkuda, and provides a nice reroll for the AA ability. His Parley can help to keep the Soleil Royal safe if she gets into a quarry with an enemy, while a helmsman has also been hired to make the ship sail with the best of them. Trailing the SR is the Marianne, a slow but underrated sloop.

I will be making attempts to play this game during peak natural lighting, but some turns (especially those in Karkuda) may have some darker shots. The flash will come in handy, though I’d like to avoid using it a lot because it can look rather strange and unnatural. In this case it helps to illuminate the beauty of the Soleil Royal and show off the basic cardboard I used for the dock lol. With a thick enough piece it can be very durable and comes with a nice wooden color, so I can just cut it and use it without further modification!

Making an entrance similar to the Jades, the Americans are here! They sail into the Sea of Karkuda on two ships: the Bonhomme Richard, legend of the North Sea, and the Argo, legend of nothing. XD Brent Rice and a helmsman crew the Bonhomme Richard, a ship that unfortunately had a very loose mizzenmast when I received her constructed in an eBay lot some years ago. I have not used either ship as much as I’d like to have, especially the BR, so they comprise America’s starting fleet.

The Argo has already spotted an island, but it looks very rocky and inhospitable, at least to humans. However, it has been named “Luck Island” due to the “lucky stone” on top of the main outcropping. (note: In my childhood, summer vacations on a local lake with a rock-filled beach led to the finding of some “lucky stones”, which are simply stones that have a clean hole all the way through) The Americans don’t want to settle on Luck Island, but they also don’t want to go through that dangerous-looking swirl of water off the starboard side of the BR….

Luck Island, with the hole in the rock showing the BR’s jib. A keen eye will notice “land ho!” off in the distance, but that doesn’t mean the Americans can see it yet. (a rare instance of you glimpsing something before the sailors do, as I noted in the first post of this thread)

(Karkuda comes from other real-life location names I enjoy, such as the Sea of Marmara, Barbados, Barbuda, etc.)

If you’ve been keeping count, we are now up to 3 oceans (Allost, Caribbean, Karkuda), 2 rooms (Karkuda is in a different room), and 6 factions. Not to mention some fun new creations!! And don’t worry, the fun nearly hasn’t even started yet! XD We’re only one turn in!

Another round of turns begins! Mysion on the Cassandra sees a familiar sight he saw on his trip in, but he’s been busy “renovating” the now-active Pirate Kingdom base. It’s Pistol Island, so named for its distinctive shape. (long handle at the left, with a barrel at the right and even a bit of a flared muzzle like a flintlock to boot!) Note: This is a rock I discovered at the aforementioned lake many years ago, but this is the first time I’ve used it in a Pirates game. It’s further proof that I’ve been at this nautical stuff for a while, since I may have found it before I got into Pirates and possibly even before the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out!

The Jade Rebellion has quickly found a perfect island to call home in the Sea of Allost! Both ships dock at the beach, but they’re still organizing parties for exploratory purposes.

An imposing sight: the Viceroy carries not only Thomas Gunn, but also Major Peter Sharpe, a bargain-priced marine in the employ of England. The name Gunn is probably familiar to most readers, as the most effective Admiral of the Age in many respects. His new post has him in control of just two ships, but if fortune smiles upon his fate he will command many more before too long….

Oh no! The San Estaban’s luck appears to be more pedestrian already than it was in EE, for the Spanish captain and helmsman aboard the vessel only find some rocks and reefs blocking their path.

The Ebro meets a similar dilemma, and her crew sticks with the plan of meeting with her fleetmates instead of forging ahead with her ability to ignore terrain while moving.

The entire Spanish fleet, showing a good chunk of the Caribbean.

Back to Karkuda: what beauty! The French flagship gets a second consecutive AA from Gaston, allowing her to dock at a nearby wild island and explore it!

With the first island resource roll of the game, the French discover yummy food on the nice island! Here you can see the Merchants and Marauders token I’ll use, along with a French pennant marker.

The Americans discover an island much more “human friendly” than Luck Island! They plan to make it their home after exploring it, similar to the Jades in the Sea of Allost.

That is all for the time being, but I’ll be back with more very soon. However, in the meantime I thought I’d leave you with a final picture, a preview of sorts. This is an undiscovered wild island, which will be called “The Flat” for obvious reasons. It’s another old rock from a long time ago, but in this case it was recently glued back together to look the part for this game! Haha. I hope you enjoyed the start of Command the Oceans. CTO for short, the name was partially inspired by a book I read a few years ago.

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